Fresh off another round of treatment – not the noble, heroic, radiator treatment… but, you know, the other kind, I’ve been ruminating on a number of things. Specifically, regrets. Ways I’ve hurt others. Or, as those who have made to higher levels of Grand Theft Suboxone than me, the 9th Step. In most rehabs, addicts and alcoholics are ordered by mean counselors to write dozens and dozens of “Interferences”, ways in which we have interfered, through our addiction, in the lives of our fellow man. Woman. Child. Duck. Whatever the case may be. The scumbag aka patient must write out a list and share with a circle group while being judged harshly and justifiably by them.
- I interfered in the life of my brother by not paying him back $40 I borrowed.
- I interfered in the life of that hobo by stealing his cans.
And so forth.
I’m a veteran of many of these kinds of treatments; expecting soon some kind of Lifetime Achievement Award such as they gave Michael Jackson. Or Madonna. My oeuvre in the field of getting fucked up for months at a time and then doing panicked damage control is prolific and transcendent. I’ve gotten fucked up in so many genres.
The Interference exercise is supposed to be a lesson in humility. For reflecting on the time you called that chick at Taco Bell a dog faced pony soldier is therapeutic, for the simple power of one man admitting his faults.
I shared one that I still feel absolutely awful about to this day. I interfered in the life of Markeesha by…
My buddy Jason and I were out drinking one Saturday night sometime in the early 2000’s. Cell phones were still a thing of the future. The Nu-metal craze at its turntable scratchiest. Bill Cosby, a national treasure.
Jason and I started at Peppers Grill, a sports bar known for hosting various Iowa college football coaches and their radio shows. Overpaid and mendacious, these coaches perennially filled our square, Midwestern heads with dreams of national championships, while continuing to power us right into some Basic Bitch Bowl year after fucking year. Jason and I were there to eat ridiculous looking triple bacon cheeseburgers, look at coed waitresses and get tanked before a night out on the town. Neither of us had a cell phone so any party favors had to be arranged in advance; you kids truly don’t know how easy it is for you to attain drugs but rest assured, peeps my age paved the way for your ungrateful asses. Or led you into a nationwide addiction crisis, whatever.
Broosters, stupid stupid Broosters was our next stop. A club atmosphere I earned free entry into having joined a fantasy football league there the prior year. Take note on this as well, youngins, you didn’t fantasy football on a laptop or computer back in the day, yo ass had to set your weekly line ups in person! Every week! And if your team came in last you got punched in the stomach by everyone. You think it was some kind of game!?
So Jason and I swaggered into Broosters, popped collars, wing tip shoes. We dressed like men. Sauntering in most likely to “This Is How We Do It” or some such classic. I won’t bore you with the details of us striking out with women but I know it happened because of what followed. At that point I was losing interest in even one night stands with bar ladies anyhow. It’s not that I became a homosex, although I often wish I had, but I fell into the trap of that old drug glorifying cliche.The love of my life was no longer a person, but a pipe. No longer beautiful woman much loyal but rather a strip of Reynold’s foil.
Needless to say, that night we left the bar empty handed. Jason, of female companionship, I of dope. But I knew I needed some, and I was driving, and unless Jason wanted to walk home, his ass was going with me to the ghetto. The ghetto of Waterloo…Iowa.
Yes, you read that right. Waterloo, Iowa was founded in 1873 by Jebediah Waterloo who wrestled a bear for property rights on the East side of the Cedar River. He then wrestled another bear for claim to the Black Hawk County seat. Sometime in the 1920’s, in order to build a big train yard Iowa’s governor, Jesse “The Corncob” Ventura, brought the first and only black people into the Heartland state. And don’t you mistake Iowa’s union status for treating minorities well. No, my state redlined and gerrymandered with the best of them, leaving a population of African Americans cordoned into a 7 mile radius, widely known as City View and eventually evolving into a bona fide ghetto.
Jason, a Chicagoan by birth, was always startled to learn that Waterloo, Iowa A. had black people and B. had black people who did hard drugs. Along with well, me. Anhydrous meth had not yet taken over the Heartland so if you wanted to get high after a long night of drinking you could either snort cocaine (which was my preference), eat crazy trucker pills (nobody’s preference) or smoke crack. A begrudged medium, if not entirely satisfying. Given what happens shortly after hitting the glass dick stuffed with Brillo. Jason didn’t know we might be smoking crack that night. He was on a need to know basis only.
Started at my guy Trey’s house. He lived in an old converted fire department. Not that that’s relevant other than if he still had a fireman’s pole in the center of his bedroom he would have kicked me through the hole to the first floor. You see, a few weeks earlier I banged on his grandmother’s door at 4:00 AM trying to buy a gram of yay from him. He, uh, apparently hadn’t gotten over that yet. For Jason and I, it was like 2:15 AM. Jason wasn’t drugs or bust like me; he even started to drift off in the passenger seat while I drove through town trying my diminishing options. It didn’t work out. By 3:30 AM, having made calls from pay phones, knocked on windows, and paged several worthless, unreliable dealers, I gave up. On…the….COKE. Oh, did you think I was going to go home, order a pizza and pass out? Lol. God bless your soul, sweet child.
Nah, I was taking Jason to the ghetto.
He was barely coherent so I didn’t have to convince him of anything, just to dig out $60 from his wallet and hand it over I’d take care of the rest. My Buick Regal cruised slowly up and down the blocks of City View and branching off East 4th Street. 3:30 AM, Saturday night going into Sunday, crisp April night. If someone was out walking around, and they weren’t delivering newspapers….I wanted to have a word with them. Remember that clown craze, where fully fledged clowns were haunting Midwest streets at night, scaring people? Well I wasn’t looking for no goddam clown but I did want some party favors!
Lafayette Street, appropriately standing in front of a Dairy Queen, barred windows, puffing on what looked like the remnants of a Dilly Bar….my morning angel emerged. A long pink comb sheared into her black Trigglypuff ‘do, pink halter top and white biker shorts, dancing, literally dancing on the corner to a tune known only to her and her alone. She was 350 solid or I’m a flying hog. It was a glorious site and while I’d like to think her gestures were organic I’m pretty sure she saw us coming a mile away. It was 4 in the morning after all.
“Whassup baby, whatchu doin tonight?”
A customary greeting at that hour in that part of town.
“Hey, umm…I’m <redacted>, this is Jason, we just had a few drinks tonight, kinda…wondering…if you might be able to help us.”
“You cops? You look like cops”.
“I promise, we’re not cops. I don’t like them very much.”
“Baby whatchu want?” And with that the heretofore known Markeesha opened the passenger door, moved Jason into a crouching position and proceeded to climb into my back seat. “Drive”, she ordered.
Once in the car, we talked business and I of course expressed my desire for wholesome, harmless cocaine but Markeesha shut that down quickly. “Whatchu want that fo? Naw baby I get you the GOOD stuff!”. Jason was starting to stir by this point, given that we had picked up a human who could have body slammed Big John Studd but he didn’t know the fine details of what was going on. I just told him I had a friend and we were talking and he slipped back into blissful dreams of better, more responsible friends.
Markeesha had me stop at one place, where she was directed to another place where she asked me to hand her $150 and then she’d be back. Ok, dear readers, this is where any addict worth his bath salt knows better then to hand money off to a hustler and hope they’re gonna come back. There were a couple extenuating factors here though. It’s 4 AM in downtown Waterloo, Iowa. Where is she going to go? She’s bigger than Vince Wilfork so she can’t run, despite wearing pretty sleek biker shorts I must admit. I hemmed and hawed a little. I told her to leave something of importance behind. “Nigga whatchu want me to leave my mafucking comb? I aint got shit on me!”
“How about your purse?”
“Fine I’ll leave my damn purse and shit <redacted> (by this time we were on a first name basis), I’ll even leave these motherfuckers!” With that, Markeesha took off her gold pumps and threw them in my lap. “Gimme the money I be right back!” Markeesha crushed the passed out Jason again with her girth, took my $150, and walked up to a nearby house. A house with lights a plenty on at 4 on a Sunday morning. I watched her go inside. Sure as a scratched gold pump, Markeesha emerged 10 minutes later and shuffled back to the Regal.
“I got yo shit <redacted> see you thoughts I was gonna run off on yo ass!”
“I’m sorry, Markeesha, you know how it is”.
“I do, I do”.
If Jason wasn’t flaccidly drunk, he probably would have been in traction by morning but once again, our big fun girl climbed back into the car, and spit into her hand about 6 different little baggies, all bulging with tiny little yellow white pebbles. I smiled. We had to find a place to go.
Now at the time, I was of course staying with my mom, so that wasn’t an option. I can’t imagine mom waking up for her Sunday morning bible study and coffee and stumbling on a 350 lb BBW sitting on her washing machine smoking crack cocaine. I didn’t even know where Jason lived. At that point I either still figured Markeesha stayed at Dairy Queen or shared a place but if she shared a place I’d have to share my drugs and who knows how many people would be getting involved in all that. So we drove out to a cornfield. Haha, that’s right, from ghetto to cornfield. 5 miles, baby.
Markeesha and me got started. If you don’t know anything about smoking crack, you’re both a square and also you use this little glass tube, that’s always got residue on the walls and within the glass tube is a rolled up Brillo pad. Yes, that’s exactly why they sell Brillo pads at the counters of downtown gas stations. The hits are euphoric, they really are, if not very fleeting. Methamphetamine, in its current state of crystal, had still not gone widespread yet. And it especially wasn’t prominent in the black community. African Americans used to gleefully make fun of methheads….until they realized how much more bang they got for their bucks from meth over crack. But this was like early 2001, the feds weren’t torturing Muslims or looking up our asses at airports yet, they were just still pumping cocaine and baking soda into the inner city and then picking on the blacks who mixed them together.
Jason woke up to a crack pipe in his mouth. Yes, I know, I know. But at the time I thought I was doing him a favor. He uh, lets just say he came to. $150 worth of crack between 3 people is going to last about….3 hours. Just in time for daylight, the sinister sounds of birds chirping after a long night of ingesting alcohol and drugs. At one point, Markeesha pulled a titty out of her halter top and said “ooooh you white boys is cute, you wanna lick my titty!” Jason and I just sat there like Beavis and Butthead; sans the stiffies. It’s hard to get those when you’re smoking crack. Neither of us licked her titty.
We did have fun though, talking smack, listening to KBBG and Michael Jackson, grooving, getting super paranoid and shutting down all noise.
And of course, every cocaine user knows that the comedown is almost worse than the high and as throngs of church bells rang throughout the land and that evil, fucking evil sunlight shone upon our pale faces, and the high started to wear off, reality had begun to set in. At some point during our excitement I had promised Markeesha we’d buy some more and keep going. At the….time…I meant to keep that promise. But I had to work Monday! In 2001 I wasn’t yet drinking vodka at work and smoking foilburgers in the warehouse bathroom. I was a responsible person! 6 turned into 7, 7 to 7:30.
“Umm, Markeesha, I think we better get back”. Jason had barely said boo throughout the night and while I think he enjoyed the high and surprise brown areola, he wasn’t about to spend more money on dope. Even if I punched him in the stomach repeatedly and tried to force him to. In those days, I just didn’t really have it in me either.
“Ok baby, we getting some more right?”
This part always sucks. Markeesha had treated us right, gave me at least a gram and a half (which sounds like a ripoff but remember, I bought this off the street from a stranger at 4:00 AM), showed a titty, and I was now breaking my promise with her. I was tired, I was depressed, I was broke. At least to buy more crack. Jason was asking to please go home. I turned to ol girl.
“Hey, you been awesome but I don’t think we can afford anymore, I’m sorry ‘Keesha, I really am”.
“Dayyum, I shoulda know’d you just was gonna take that last hit and then leave ol’ Markeesha high and dry. Damn. Can y’all at least buy me a pack of cigarettes?”
Sure, I told her, I could do that. I wasn’t in the greatest shape to drive, but obviously I had to get us all home, and fuckitall I still had to work the next day! Ugh! We went to Pistol Pete’s, local shitmart and I gave her $6 of the last $13 or so I had on me. Between the cornfield and the gas station, Markeesha told me where she lived. Are you kidding me? In Cedar Falls. I couldn’t even afford to live in Cedar Falls! That’s like 10 miles out of my way. “You gotta wait for me, <redacted>, please I gots no ride home!
Promise me you won’t leave me.”
I told her I would not leave her. I….told….her….I…would..not…leave…her.
As we’re sitting in the Buick Regal, 8:30 AM on a Sunday morning, no sleep, the unspeakable comedown of cocaine already weighing on that whole fucking car, Sun blaring, at least $200 in the hole, after a full night of hard partying….a fucking cop pulls in.
Jason: “Go man, just go”.
Jason: “I’m so tired, man. What’s that policeman gonna think when a big fat hooker climbs into this car with us? Probably carrying beer..”
Christ. I have so many hurtful things I did to people in my active addiction. So many broken promises, betrayals, missed family gatherings, night after night of caroming down the road drunk and high putting every human in a 20 mile radius at risk. But goddam I felt fucking bad when I screeched out of Pistol Pete’s, especially when I saw Markeesha shaking a fist at me in the rearview mirror and throwing a bottle at my car. Goddamit.
So…Markeesha, if, by some bizarre chance you’ve become an aficionado of terrible black metal music and edgelord cultural malaise, and you’re reading this, baby-girl, from the bottom of my heart, I apologize.